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Gettin' Zoned

You can't read much about the Rams without encountering at least a few lines about their redzone performance, or lack thereof.

The Rams, out of 20 possessions in the red zone have scored 6 points just 8 times and 3 points 10 times. Their TD percentage in the red zone is just .400, ranking them 27th out of the league's 32 teams. They finished the forgettable 2005 season with a .471 red zone TD percentage. You can view the full chart here.

To go along with that, and indicative of similar problems, the Rams have a third down conversion rate of just 35.2%, 25 of 71 attempts.

Fixing this aspect of the offense will be key to beating Seattle this week and silencing pundits who use the word "fluke" when talking about our 4-1 record. Here's a few humble suggestions that might help.

Options, Man
I'm not just talking about running more option plays, I'm talking about spreading the ball around some more. The Rams have scored just 8 touchdowns this season (7 in the air, and just one on the ground). Holt has HALF of them. He has 29 catches, Bruce has 22, Jackson has 18, and nobody else in the receiving corps has more than 9.

The play calling this season has been balanced overall as far as the type of plays being called, but in the red zone Linehan seems to prefer the pass and mostly passing to Holt. The Rams looked good inside the red zone for the Detroit game and for the first half of the Green Bay game, and it wasn't just Holt doing the scoring. In week 4, Klopfenstein, Bruce and Holt had TDs and Steven Jackson got his only rushing TD of the season. Last week, Curtis caught a ball for a score (along with Holt) in the first half of the game. There was no reason not to push the Packers' lousy secondary throughout the game. There's no way they could have covered Holt, Bruce, and Curtis effectively on single plays consistently throughout that game.

Run, Steven, Run
I realize the offensive line's not exactly in tip-top shape right now and that the left side had a lot of work last week. Still, it seems criminal that a talented back like Jackson has just one rushing TD on the season. I don't understand how, factoring in the line's performance and his talent, SJ can run wild and come up empty in the scoring department.

The Rams offense is tied for second in the league with 39 penalties, giving up 300+ yards that way. Now, I'm not looking at anything that indicates how many of those penalties have come inside the red zone, but you don't really need to be Vince Lombardi to know that penalties will cost your team some chances. Shape up.  

It's easy to oversimplify the whole thing, but it's equally as mystifying how the Rams have done so poorly while doing so well on first and second downs. And it's frustrating to see just how tantalizingly close they are to becoming a team better than their 4-1 record would indicate.

I never thought I'd say this after Lovie Smith left, but the defense is keeping the Rams in the running so far. We'll look for some key changes come Sunday.